“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Many of us walk around feeling like we don’t have very many choices in most aspects of our lives. Just notice how many times a day you say the words: have to, should, and need to. Whenever you feel like you must do something, you’re in Level 1 energy – you’re a victim to your thoughts or circumstances.
In fact, when you’re faced with a task or something to do, there are five basic ways you can respond, and of them, only one is by full conscious choice. The five ways of responding are “I won’t,” “I have to,” “I need to,” “I want to,” or “I choose to.”
When you say “I won’t” do something, you’re saying that you have no power, that life happens to you, no matter what you do or believe. You don’t believe you have a choice. You also don’t really think there’s anything in it for you – so why even do it?
If you say “I have to” do something, you’re looking at the short term perspective. You “have to” complete the task in front of you, or else you will experience dire consequences. You feel forced to do it, and that you have very little or no choice.
The third response, “I need to” is a more powerful place to come from. Here, you’re aware of your choices and you seek to find the opportunity in the challenges presented to you. This perspective brings more chance of success, but it’s still catabolic, because you don’t feel like you fully have the ability to make or even see multiple choices. (Catabolic Energy is draining, destructive energy – this type of energy releases catabolic chemicals, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which actually eat away at our very cells.)
So these three responses involve either non-action, or action by force. Since you are not energetically bought into a situation, goal, or project, and because you are bringing catabolic energy to it, you are also bringing a recipe for failure. So in these catabolic levels, even though you may think you are choosing to do something, at your core, you chose not to do it, or not to do it well. For example, say you are going in for a job interview. You know you want this job, but you’re also catabolic that it’s been several months and many interviews and every one of them has turned you down. So, while you want this job, you assume they will turn you down, too. How much positive energy are you really going to put into the interview? You may want to put a lot into it, but living in that catabolic energy just pulls you down and, depending on your defense mechanism, you come off as lackluster, arrogant, or as if you’re just going through the motions.
The next response, “I want to,” is anabolic, because it indicates that you are mostly at choice. But, “want” still comes from a place of lack. (Anabolic Energy is constructive, building, healing energy. This type of energy releases anabolic hormones, such as testosterone, into the body.)
The most powerful response is “I choose to.” When you respond this way, you feel you have complete choice. There’s a powerful connection between who you are and what you do.
So how do you get to choose to? Simply come from a place of believing you already have everything, and that you choose to experience life rather than fill a need.
Take this first step: Whatever the task is (say exercise), think about why you want it. You may have to ask yourself “Why” several times to get at the root of it. At first you may say something like, “Because they say I need to exercise 30 minutes a day” or “I want to get healthy.” Ask yourself again – this isn’t a deep enough “Why!” So, “I want to get healthy” turns into “My back is killing me and I want to get around pain free.” Good! And you can ask yourself “Why?” again. Then you may say, “My father had back surgery and I can’t tell that he feels much better – and I want to be able to walk freely and easily.” Great! And again. “I want to be able to do whatever physical activity I want and feel great doing it.” Excellent! And then you can begin to dream about what you want to do – skydive, hike the trails, scuba dive, or play duck, duck, goose with your kids! THAT becomes your WHY and THAT is anabolic. Then when you get to the point where you are choosing – exercise bike or TV watching on the couch – you and think about duck, duck, goose and smile, get off the couch, and ride your bike!
Is it easy? Not at all, but you can choose to try it this week!
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